The following statements were made by students and teachers at schools rehabilitated and/or constructed by UNDP in Gaza, with support from Qatar Fund for Development, through the Education Above All Foundation’s Al Fakhoora Programme.
“I started my career in 1985 as an English language teacher. Then, in 2009, I moved to administration. Although I left teaching, I still represented the model I believe in; the model of a good teacher who builds a relationship of trust with his students. I fought against bullying and respected all students. I believe that all students have great abilities, we just need to respect them and unlock that potential so that they can reach their aspirations and become productive members of society. Now, I am a headmaster at Jamal Abdel Nasser School in Gaza, and I have 40 teachers, 31 of whom are my former students. The new school, made possible through UNDP and the Qatar Fund for Development, through the Education Above All Foundation’s Al Fakhoora Programme, has greatly improved the psychological well-being of students; even those who had dropped out of school are back again now and fully committed. We have 30 students who re-enrolled after they had left school earlier in the year to work or for family reasons. The school has become a national treasure that does not belong to the current students but rather to the generations to come.”
“I have been teaching for 25 years. During this long period of time, everything has changed, including myself and the way I teach students. I used to hear the usual question from my students: ‘Why do we study math?’ and to be frank, the answer today should be different from what it was 25 years ago. Now, we connect education with life experience. When I teach them about the eclipse, I give them an example of satellites and rocket launches. The new school has helped us a lot in that respect. I used to use my mobile flashlight during lessons in the old school because we had no lights in classes due to the electricity shortages in the Gaza Strip, but now the school has round-the-clock electricity all week long because of the solar panels!”
“When I see a fellow student at school who throws something on the ground or tries to damage something, I stop and talk to him about how important it is to keep the school beautiful and the structure in good shape so that we can learn better. We clean it and keep it as good as when the school year began. I want to be a pilot when I grow up, I have never ever traveled by plane. I wish that Gaza one day would be a better place to live so that I could travel at least once.”
“Our school was severely damaged during the 2014 hostilities. My class was overcrowded and that made me not want to go to school. The school looks amazing now that rehabilitation has been completed. I am motivated to go to school every morning. Because of the solar panels, we are finally able to use the science labs and the smart board. We have additional classrooms and one shift a day instead of three. It is a relief.”
“I was hurt to see my school destroyed, holes left in the walls and floors brought down to the ground. It was the worst feeling ever. But I was very happy when I learned that my school would be rebuilt. I counted the days to come back to school, and now I am very happy.”
“After the 2014 hostilities, I came to my school but found nothing except rubble. I was shocked when I saw the school destroyed. It was the worst experience ever; the main source of hope in this difficult situation had disappeared, and we had to continue our studies in temporary shelters or caravans. The situation was awful because the caravan was not equipped for persons with disabilities like us, making it very difficult to move safely. Now, I just love the colorful walls, the new classrooms, and the garden. Actually, after having been rebuilt, the school is now much more suitable for me. I can move easily from one place to another without suffering… that gives me independence and makes me happy.”